WHEN Tayla Harris speaks, the sporting world listens.
The telegenic 23-year-old, who manages dual sporting pursuits in football and boxing, has made a career out of proving people wrong — and it doesn’t stop there.
As the boxing industry sits in hiatus, the two-division national titleholder has expressed her desire to further legitimise the credentials of her punch-for-pay pursuits, whenever the sport resumes.
“I made this comment when I was fighting,” she told ABC Grandstand
“I was getting so frustrated with the ring announcer for saying, AFL Womens player-turned-boxer, Tayla Harris. And that really annoyed me.
“So I made a massive point, especially with my Australian title wins, to make sure people knew I was really having a good crack at boxing. I wasn’t just doing it for fun.
“As of recently, I’m a boxer who plays footy as well.”
Despite the infancy of her pugilistic career, Harris (7-0-1, 3 KOs) sees a clear pathway to world level opportunities, having competed three times in each of the past two calendar years.
“I want to win a world title, I can win a world title. I’ll get the opportunity and I’ll be ready for it,” she explained.
“I can’t wait for when that comes, at the right time. I’m not exactly sure what that looks like, who against, where it is, or anything along those lines. I’m not doing it half assed, I’m doing it 100 percent.
“If I get there and if I manage to win that, I’m not sure what comes after.
“I’m not going to say unify every belt in the world and everything like that, but I’ll certainly have ambitions to be a world champion.”
The Melbourne-based dual sportswoman has carved out a perfect sporting schedule, balancing her commitments between two sports with relative ease.
It’s clear that Harris, who secured the Australian light middleweight crown in her last appearance, is in a hurry. And to her credit, Harris is seeking the most legitimate path to a world title.
“There is someone who I’ve been following for a long time, and who I really admire, and that’s Hanna Gabriels from Costa Rica,” she added.
“I’d love the opportunity to challenge myself against her, and I feel that could be something that could happen one day. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of hurdles to get over in boxing.
“Especially location, and especially currently when our borders are closed. Who knows what that looks like? And when that can happen. But I hope so, I think it would be a well-matched fight. Certainly one day, I’m ambitious and I want to take on the best.
“I believe you have to beat the best to be the best. But I think evidently, she’s got a very long and experienced career behind her, when I’ve literally fought seven or eight times.
“And a few of them you could probably cross out due to early wins, or just early stages of the career. In terms of experience, it’s a no-brainer, I need a lot more experience.”
In the current climate, women’s boxing is ruled by the likes of undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor and charismatic American Claressa Shields, with the latter serving as the first to ever win belts in three divisions.
Although a fight with the two-time Olympic gold medallist isn’t in her immediate future, Harris would be a more than willing participant.
“I need a lot more time to prepare for something like that,” she said.
“Certainly, if I had the opportunity to do everything, it’s two humans going up against each other. There’s no reason I couldn’t win, and I genuinely believe that.
“I’m not the biggest fan of the way she goes about things.
“But that’s just watching from afar, it’s hard to comment because I don’t know her personally.”
Corbin & Ben – Ep 22 – who is/was our best dual sport athlete? @CorbinMiddlemas makes his case for @Anthony_Mundine. @taylaharriss our feature guest. @cleary_mitch dissects the national cabinet meeting.
— Ben Cameron (@BenCameron23) May 1, 2020
Photo: Getty Images